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You’ve been hearing the terms VR and AR thrown around at the water cooler and probably mentioned in headlines quite a bit in the past year. Do you know the difference? And have you thought about using either one of these fairly new technologies in your marketing efforts? If not, you should and here is why.
Virtual reality (VR) means blocking out any visual sense of the real world and puts your audience in the middle of a new one – think of a VR headset. It is on track to be the next big wave in tech. Augmented Reality (considered to be a kind of VR) offers a nice blend of both the virtual and real worlds – think of the Pokemon GO app.
Simply put, Augmented Reality (AR) was created because it gives people the opportunity to experience extraordinary things that would be impossible otherwise, or very hard to achieve at the very least. So why not use it to do some good?
VR and AR, often combined with a social media channels, can open the door to exciting ways to encourage donations and grow non-profit organizations.
1) Using the VR experience to help children:
Pencils of Promise builds schools in developing countries. Their goal was to increase donations at an upcoming gala. Using a VR experience with headsets, they virtually took attendees to Ghana and showed them what it was like to attend school there, which in turn created an incomparable emotional connection that inspired higher donations. Watch it for yourself. Be sure to drag your mouse across the screen for the full picture.
- Pencils of Promise was able to raise $1.9 million at their gala, way more than anticipated.
- The video was viewed nearly two million times on their Facebook Page, greatly increasing awareness of their program.
2) Using AR and social media to watch a coral reef thrive or die:
Paper Triangles created a unique AR experience in conjunction with Los Angeles Industry Gallery, with the proceeds going to The Hydrous nonprofit. This exhibit used real-time tweets to either create or destroy a coral reef complete with swimming fish. Tweets containing hashtags like #recycling or #conservation made the reef thrive, while tweets with #coffee or #brunch created trash in the reef, destroying it. What do they have against coffee you might wonder?
Well, the goal wasn’t to call out food or our morning java as a culprit for destroying the oceans, but instead, it was designed to make people consider — on what — their online conversations are focused.
Paper Triangle says we “swim” in data every day, but we don’t always do something with it. This experiment not only raised money, but it also provided an opportunity to visualize data by experimenting with a new way to display the white noise of content and the endless information. Really cool, right?
3) Using just social media to celebrate heroes:
DoSomething.org used Snapchat to publish a series of snaps to promote their Everyday Superheroes campaign. “Snapchatters” were encouraged to send a card to someone who makes the world a better place. The experience begins with a story of Ricky looking for a special way to show his appreciation for Puppet Sloth. Step two: He is encouraged to download an Everyday Superheroes card and give it to his Puppet Sloth. Finally, Snapchat followers were enticed to be a part of the story and to join the campaign themselves by making a card to depict someone who is doing great work in their community as a superhero.
- DoSomething.org is staying top of mind with younger generations on their turf. (86% of Snapchat’s users are between 13 – 37 years old.)
- It reinforces DoSomething.org is a cool and creative brand.
- The organization increases its database as followers join the campaign.
- Exclusivity and urgency are leveraged since snaps disappear within 24 hours.
- Participants share the campaign with their friends – creatively.
Looking forward, VR is sure to play an even bigger role in our lives from everything to choosing the right furniture for our space to dramatically improving our healthcare. Now time to imagine what you can do with this fascinating technology! RRD is doing some really cool stuff with AR; let me know how we can help you along this journey.
Would you like to help the planet by encouraging customers to plant seeds – via the mail – while communicating your message at the same time?
Well that’s exactly what we were able to do for one of our environmental/political clients with some creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Not only did our team help create the campaign, but we were able to design a self-mailer to send the seeds directly from our facility.
With our in-house mail shop, projects ship quickly. It’s our business to know mailing regulations like the back of our hands, and we do.
Backed by parent company RR Donnelley and our relationship with the USPS, we have the depth of resources to support any project need, like this one. Our internal team prides themselves on sharing insights with all of our clients, easily taking a consultative approach to solve a problem or tackle a marketing challenge. Our clients trust our judgment when it comes to advising them.
Most of all, Mount Vernon is no stranger to tight budgets and tight deadlines! Political projects often need to be completed in 2-3 days – and that can include highly-personalized data-driven direct mail pieces.
Our customers rely on us to properly manage their data files, a task we take very seriously. Armed with this data, we can produce any personalized direct mail piece that helps you – our customers – create a conversation with your customers or prospects.
In case you didn’t know, we also carry the Union Bug. So if your project demands specific parameters like the ones above, give us a try! We are here to help make your tight requirements feel like you have all the time in the world.
Photo by Benjamin Combs of Unsplash.com
As you know, we often talk about how we wouldn’t be the company we are without our great team. Our employees are exceptional and have so much passion for what they do. They make Mount Vernon Printing who we are.
As such, I’d like to introduce the lead pressman on our 6-color printing press, Dennis Larkin. Like many of our employees, Dennis has a long history – 27 years – working here and producing quality materials with his press expertise.
Dennis always enjoys a challenge, especially when a customer has a unique project that requires extreme color consistency across multiple parts of a program. As those in the print world know, this can often be a difficult task, as not all materials within a campaign or program are produced at the same time, on the same press. Dennis’ attention to details ensures that those color specifications are met at every step of the way.
When Mount Vernon purchased our new six-color press with coater, Dennis embraced the changes that keep Mount Vernon up-to-date with the latest and greatest technology. He’s never put off by learning something new and approached the new challenge with the same passion he applies to everything. In fact, he set the bar high and set our customers’ expectations even higher.
Over the past 27 years, he has many favorite memories, one of which was the day that we moved into our current location – a brand new state-of-the-art facility! He recalls he couldn’t wait to begin working every day.
He also appreciates working in a union print facility that has helped so many people and industries over his tenure, and through the 100 years Mount Vernon has been in business.
When Dennis isn’t working, he keeps busy by spending time with his wife Carrol, three sons and five grandchildren. His other passions include playing baseball, experiencing new wines, and watching NASCAR.
Thank you for all that you do, Dennis!
When your marketing projects call for a tight deadline, it’s critical to make sure you choose the right partner who can deliver quality pieces on time – especially when your communications are for political candidates and organizations where lead times can easily be just a few days.
Here are some questions to consider as you identify a print partner:
- Can they use variable data? Personalization is important these days, and it can really make an impact when the direct mail is tailored to the recipient.
- Can they act as a consultant, advising the best, quickest, and most economical methods to deliver your message?
- Do they have an in-house mail department that can literally get your communications in the mail as soon as they come off the press?
- Can they track ROI? e.g. Walk literature or fliers usually mean multiple pieces of collateral need to be delivered to the right voting precincts requiring data extraction, automation, and collation.
- What do you really need in a partner? Consider the character and experience of the team that will assist in getting your project done. Choose a company that fits your immediate needs, but also think about your longer-term needs.
- Does your work require a union bug?
Mount Vernon Printing can help you check off all of those boxes! We recently completed a unique project that I want to share. Perhaps it will help generate some ideas for your next communications piece.
Variable door hangers can be tricky! Not just anyone can run a door hanger through an inkjet machine and have them look ok. We accepted the challenge of printing and mailing four door hangers per polling location in a three-state area. Correct separation was critical as those door hangers were dropped at constituents’ doors and described different issues depending on the district. These types of pieces often need to be delivered within a very specific timeframe. Our quantities ranged from a few thousand to over 100,000.
We were able to accomplish this in a matter of days! Yes, I said days. Mount Vernon can print, collate and stagger mailings so the projects reach their intended recipients on time.
If you are looking for a partner to exceed your campaign needs, please contact me.
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Believe it or not, the US Postal Service is still setting records. On Dec. 18, 2017, more than 37 million packages were delivered (the most packages delivered in a single day) in the postal service’s more than 200-year history. Yet, USPS continues to suffer from falling losses for 11 years straight.
Why? Well, USPS has had to cut costs for years in an effort to pre-fund its retiree health care program – often at the expense of the service it provides. Essentially, these obligations prevent the organization from investing in the infrastructure that so critically needs attention.
Welcome the Postal Service Reform Act of 2018.
This reform act was written by a bipartisan group of senators, and the bill would address many problems that have been hindering the postal service as mail volumes continue to decline. The proposed bill has the following in store for USPS:
- The government will do away with the existing statutory payment schedule, along with any outstanding payments, and will amortize payments over 40 years.
- Restore half of the temporary rate increase while freezing further rate increases until a new rate system can be put in place by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
- Create a new Postal Service Health Benefits Program within the Federal Employee and Retiree Health Benefits Program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
- Introduce new non-postal product and services, like shipping wine or spirits, as well as creating partnerships with state governments.
- Improve transparency of results, meaning that performance for both retail and delivery would be very visible and easily accessible, for all to see.
This new legislation has received support from some printing and mailing industry organizations, however the House of Representatives rejected the bill. The Postal Regulatory Commission is on a mission to stabilize the USPS this year by raising postage stamps to 64 cents over the next five years. Time will tell how the government will ensure affordable and reliable mail service for all. We’ll provide updates here as things progress.
Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash
The debate over the life of print has been happening since the beginning of the digital age, and yet at Mount Vernon we see companies that still rely heavily on magazines, newspaper, billboard and direct mail ads.
Every year, marketers consider how many resources to put towards print verses all of their digital options, or whether to eliminate it altogether. The experts have their thoughts on the future of print advertising, and so do we.
- Print is a target-specific channel. It will continue to be valuable in places of customer presence like events, in-store marketing, or a waiting room – where people still like to kill a few minutes flipping through colorful, tactile magazines or brochures that give actual weight to a message or an ad.
- Augmented Reality. AR will give advertisements the opportunity to be part of a seamless omnichannel experience. As your audience becomes more desensitized to digital ads, advances with AR and image recognition can be a real differentiator for your brand.
- Successful print already encourages a digital interaction. Using a strategy that incorporates print into digital campaigns has proven to be more effective than digital alone because it engages your audience even further to interact with your brand online. Or, try both and entice consumers with a physical interaction, like this Indiana University Day “Super-Secret Decoder Message” direct mail piece (see pic). What could be better than sending recipients rose-colored glasses encouraging interaction in which putting them on reveals hidden text launching a clever fundraiser campaign?
- Print media will re-engage consumers via influencers and offline methods. Even though print is in the process of an evolution (or revolution, as I like to say), I believe that the outcome will lead to greater levels of engagement. If funding your print strategy is in question, you should consider testing the waters of offline partnerships to see if this can work for your brand. As newspaper and magazine production continues to decrease, direct mail might still be the best way to reach your audience.
No matter what you think about paper, the key is to find the right balance between digital and print for any given campaign using the omnichannel approach. We would love to help you with that!
Political direct mail is the backbone of any campaign, and with the June campaign primary season coming up, we are already gearing up at Mount Vernon to hit the ground running. We are a union shop – if you plan on utilizing direct mail our experts are ready to help your team design the perfect communication to ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to American voters.
According to the USPS, political direct mail is any material mailed for campaign purposes by a registered political candidate, campaign committee, or committee of a political party. You can see more information on the guidelines on their website or just ask us!
We specialize in direct mail programs and we can assist with any type of mailing that your campaign requires from soup to nuts – from consulting, design and printing to our on-site mailing department – saving you time and money when there is a tight deadline. Don’t wait too long! With our help and advance planning, you can be assured that your election mailings meet USPS® standards and will arrive on time to the right people with the right message.
We love data at Mount Vernon. That includes big data, which allows your direct mail pieces to be personalized, and we also love the Data & Marketing Association's (DMA) 2017 report concluding that 90% of people ages 25-34 find direct mail reliable, and 87% like receiving it in their mailbox.
It’s critical to make the design as compelling as possible (we can assist with that as well). Ensure your candidate tells a vivid story with a clear call-to-action, urging voters to head to digital channels for more engagement and to track your ROI. The more channels in which your message appears and engages with voters, the more your candidate will make a lasting impression.
It might sound shocking, but the DMA research also states that about 56% of Americans say receiving mail is a real pleasure, unlike the flood of emails that now invade our inboxes. We know many digital experiences are triggered through paper, and this is the perfect time to test that theory with the 2018 election season quickly approaching!
Contact me to get started now.
Photo: Courtesy of Ethan Hoover of Unsplash.com
Personalization is no longer optional these days if you want to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Consumers now expect personal engagement across all devices and channels throughout their buying journey, but more and more, buyers also expect personalization.
This is all possible with data. Thanks to variable data printing (VDP) technology, it is now an easy process to communicate to your audience with slightly different elements on paper. Even better is that with the right technology, this can be accomplished easily and cost-effectively.
Imagine you have a marketing campaign. Your collateral can be fully customized for each individual contact. That’s creating a 1:1 relationship with your target audience. There are so many options for how you can personalize coupons, fundraiser and campaign mailings, or even utilize variable graphics. Instead of sending 10,000 identical brochures to customers, consider using VPD to print customized pieces that appeal to different demographics. It all comes back to data. If you have data, you can use it to make your marketing campaigns more effective.
The Data and Marketing Association reported in early 2017 that the customer response rate for direct mail and catalogs increased year-over-year by 43%, and prospect response rates more than doubled (that’s a 190% increase). With the right strategy, a great return on investment for print is possible.
The software and the print technology we use to accomplish variable data print are cutting-edge, but interestingly, the VDP concept actually dates back to 1969. Maybe it’s time to use something you thought was old to create your new omnichannel marketing approach.
Contact me to learn how I can help you with your next VDP project.
Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is evolving and changing with the times, just like all of us. It’s now offering customers more digital options. One of these options is a free service called Informed Delivery® which lets you preview your mail and manage your packages that are scheduled to arrive in your mailbox. It’s digital + paper combined. In other words, it has the potential to be really awesome.
How does Informed Delivery work?
A grayscale image (scanned with automated equipment) is delivered to your email inbox with a scan of the front of the letters and cards that will be delivered, allowing you to see what is coming that day. What’s more, you can track packages there too.
The USPS launched this as a pilot program in 2014 and they have recently expanded it to include many zip codes nationally. To see if your address is eligible and to set up an account, go here: informeddelivery.usps.com.
According to the USPS, about 6.3 million accounts have already been created (as of last fall) to take advantage of a mail sneak peek. According to USPS, the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
Residents who travel regularly are particularly happy with this service as it allows them to keep close tabs on what mail comes while they are away. Other very satisfied users include those with roommates. Now it doesn’t matter who gets the mail, everyone knows what will be in it.
NOW imagine that you are waiting for a critical piece of mail. For instance, seeing the check you’ve been waiting for is in the mail could impact your schedule that day.
What’s in it for me as a Marketer?
If you happen to be a marketer using direct mail to reach potential customers, this is an extra bonus for you! As more people use this service, more eye balls are guaranteed to see your direct mail piece while they scan their USPS email, converting your paper ad into a digital one.
Think about all of the millennials who are on a device all day. This sneak peek service has the potential to “literally” change how they view mail and the Post Office going forward.
Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash.
Technology is continuing to shape the print industry, and it is important that WE continue to evolve as our clients’ challenges also become our own. 2017 was a year of mixed bag for our industry. There were some print manufacturing consolidations, while others in the business found success by focusing on expanding their IT service offerings.
Whatever the business strategy, one thing that rang true for all companies was stressing the importance of print technology and services that help clients combine online and offline marketing efforts.
So what’s in store for 2018? It’s clear that printers need to develop and expand their capabilities. What has worked in the past for years may not work in the future. Your print business model may need to change if it hasn’t already. At Mount Vernon, we have been preparing for this shift in business model with technology and a wide array of business communication services and data security practices.
Here are a few 2018 Trends that will impact the print industry:
Software Investments - Printers should learn from tech vendors. They differentiate themselves by offering innovations in software and also by their speed to market. In other words, don’t just focus on the hardware in the print shop. Software is poised to be one of the biggest differentiators for the print industry according to trend reports. It will also help printers address new challenges like cybersecurity and data privacy for customers (like being HIPPA compliant). Internally, updating your software can certainly improve your digital workflow (i.e. speed to market).
Big Data – This topic is nothing new for us printers, but the use of big data for predictive analytics is really going to escalate. Expect to see better application of predictive analytics with modeling and artificial intelligence and data mining.
Machine learning - This is a hot topic. Expect to see leaders invest more in machine learning to protect print devices. As more printers become more connected, the cyber threats become more real. We must protect equipment and customer data with updated technology (which ties into trend #1). Unsafe legacy equipment no longer does the job in 2018. With machine learning algorithms, threats can be detected and mitigated in real time. Keep your eyes open for cybersecurity services that will be coming out this year to fight those nasty attacks on your data.
My father owned and ran a print shop and now I have the opportunity to be part of one as well. My passion for this industry runs deep. I’m really excited to see the innovation coming down the pike for our industry as we continue to evolve with technology.
Photo by Markus Spiske courtesy of Unsplash.com